Thursday, May 21, 2015

Day One

Thanks to vacation beginning on a Thursday, I'm already totally confused as to what day it is. It truly felt like a Saturday this morning; I was convinced yesterday was Friday.

This first two days - the two extra days I didn't realize I hadn't yet used (vacation resets on 7/1 - use it before then or lose what you don't) - I've deliberately packed with things that need to be done, rather than vacation-type things. That's not to say they aren't necessarily fun, but are simply things that would get done whether or not I was on vacation.

Hair appointment this morning. The plan included getting up at my normal before dawn time, unloading the dishwasher, getting a jump on the picking up and sorting I need to do before tomorrow.

Yeah, right. First day of vacation, remember?

I slept in - until six, which sounds early to lots of people, but is a full two hours later than usual. Heaven. Picked up breakfast on the way to the hair place.

The day has rather gone downhill, plan-wise, since then. Didn't start the picking up until a couple of hours ago, and have been doing it while trying to watch a new-to-me series on the computer. There really isn't much more than a couple more hours, which can be split between tonight and early tomorrow morning. The in-depth sorting of clothes and things from the bedroom can be done over the rest of the week.

You see, the schedule for tomorrow is a bit crowded:

9 - 11 a.m. - grocery delivery
11:30 - 1:30 - new bed delivery
12:00 - 2:00 - air conditioner maintenance call
Evening sometime - friends pick up the old bedroom set

I'm a bit frazzled just typing it out.

The "new bed" is a bit misleading, as it is just a frame, box spring and mattress. I still haven't found anything I really like. The concept has changed, too. I can use the armoire I currently store quilts in in place of the dresser once I declutter the clothes a bit. I need a table of sorts to put the jewelry case and a small lamp on. No need to replace the dresser and chest of drawers I'm giving away. As for a headboard, eh, I can look around at antique stores until I find something that catches my fancy. Until then, I can do the "cool" thing and hang a large quilt in the spot a headboard normally would be.

Pictures eventually. One of the fun things on the list for the week is finally hanging the bedroom curtains I bought a couple of months ago, and the valance I've made.

If I can get to it, watch this space as well for quilted things I want to sell. In spite of giving away so many quilts, I have a nice stack of runners, wall hangings and various other pieces, which don't really fit in the new condo. If I can get them sorted out, I'll post pics and prices by the end of next week.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday brain fluff

- Plants are all here, unpacked and on the patio, enjoying the rain we had overnight into this morning. With luck, at least the ones going in the urns will be planted tomorrow. The bushes for out front may have to wait on my energy level, as well as other pending projects. Storms predicted for Sunday afternoon and evening.

- Packing peanuts are evil, even the big ones. Home Depot packed the arborvitae in a box brimming with them. Somehow, they take up more room in the garbage bag than in the box in which they were packed to begin with.

- Out to the closing sale for my favorite quilt shop after work today. I had ordered a piece of equipment April 2nd - I never got a call that it came in, so I need to check on that. I paid for it already, so if they don't have it, I've extra funds to use for the sale.

-Seven more sleeps until the new bed is delivered. Already washed the sheets and mattress cover. The quilt I'm using on the smaller bed is actually made for the larger one, fortunately.

- Trying to plant a couple of day trips for the vacation week. It's hard, since I really do enjoy being at home (and certainly have enough stuff going on to keep me busy and entertained), but want to feel as if I've done some "vacating".

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A little nip in the air

Ha. There are times when you just hate being right.

When I ordered the plants, I predicted a late season frost, or even snowstorm, the week they were supposed to be delivered.

It was 29 degrees at my house when I got up this morning.

Not to fear, I had dragged the shrub and the lilac bush - as yet unplanted, thankfully - into the house last night. It's a bit of a blessing that the other two bushes and the rose have not yet arrived (more on that, later, perhaps, as it appears that Home Depot has made another mistake on the order).

The weekend is supposed to be sunny and dry (rain through Friday morning), so with a little luck, I'll get things in the ground.

Inside the house, meanwhile, it's pretty nippy. Turning off the heat early last week may have been a bit optimistic. I'm too stubborn to turn it back on. Did I mention I sleep with the window open? Closed it almost all the way before going to bed last night, and it was still pretty cold inside this morning. Needless to say, the bathroom heater got a workout.

Now that we've gotten this late season frost out of the way, there is hope that the weather will stabilize. They say cooler again next week, though not this cold, followed by a happy, hearty warm up for Memorial Day week (the actual day will be chilly and rainy, as it always is).

Monday, May 11, 2015

April Reads

Back on track in April.

You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One), Jeff Goins - I'd heard much about Jeff Goins via various blogs I follow, and his appearances at conferences. Despite the title of the book, it is more about selling/positioning yourself to sell than it is about actually writing. Two thirds of the book concern building a brand and learning to pitch your work. Not quite what I expected, but some helpful information presented in a straightforward, easy to grasp manner. It's worth noting that Goins writes primarily, if not exclusively, nonfiction, via books like this one and articles and features for magazines and newspaper.

The Mystery of Art: Becoming an Artist in the Image of God, Jonathan Jackson - A five-time Emmy winner, Jonathan Jackson has a resume that starts with an ongoing role on General Hospital as a teen, includes movies like Tuck Everlasting, a music career with his own band, Enation, and currently a recurring role on the nighttime soap Nashville. He's also a committed Christian, worshiping in the Eastern Orthodox church. His faith is deep and well informed (the breadth of his reading of and knowledge of Eastern Orthodox theology as revealed in the book is impressive). But his faith doesn't just live in his head, it's lived out in how he approaches his art, and it is that concept on which this book is based. While his own artistic background, and therefore most of his real life examples, are in acting and music, he emphasizes that the ideas he presents are applicable to all forms of art, and in some way, all of us are artists. A few quotes:
Our society says the ultimate artistic virtues are entertainment, money, and fame. In this view, the artist is a means to a materialistic end: profit and power. In contrast to this, the ultimate virtues of the spiritual artist are sanctification and transformation. In a grace-infused worldview, the artist is more than a means to such heavenly ends; he participates in the world’s redemption.
To be made in the Image of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit means to be created for communion. All authentic creativity comes from God, whether the artist is aware of it or not. Every step of the way, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are creatively active in the world. In that sense, creation is ongoing. The artist can glimpse the wonder of eternity here and now.
Every day is an offering, a reason for praise and exaltation. Every morning is a foreshadowing of the resurrection that is to come.
This is an excellent read for anyone involved in the performing, visual and written arts. It is worth reading slowly, then rereading. It's so good, in fact, that I almost forgive Mr. Jackson the constant use of the Oxford comma.

At long last, March Reads

After pulling ahead of my two book per month goal in February, I slacked off in March. To be honest, I'm not sure if this books belongs in the Do-It-Yourself section, or Unintentional Humor.

DIY: 365 Days of DIY: A Collection of DIY, DIY Household Hacks, DIY Cleaning and Organizing, DIY Projects, and More DIY Tips to Make Your Life Easier (With Over 45 DIY Christmas Gift Ideas), White Lemon. Okay, with a title (titles) like that, who could resist? There are some helpful hints in categories including household, parenting, crafts, kitchen, cleaning, organizing and beauty. But there is also a lot of very...creative...use of the English language.

It's not so much that the writer sounds as if English is not her native tongue, but more that the sentences are a bit garbled. I had to read a number of hints several times in order to figure out exactly what she was getting at.

Still, I did highlight about two dozen hints, before the style started getting to me. Most of them seem to involve magnets, in one way or another.

Good thing I picked this up for free.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Weekend wrapup

- Ordered a new mattress/box spring set Friday, NOT a twin size. Yay, for grown up beds! Discovered a small error in the order when I got home, and decided that as long as that was being fixed, I'd upgrade a level in the set. That meant a return trip to the store, but since I had phoned ahead (Verlo - they actually make your set after you order, so I wanted to catch them before they started on the original order), they already had the adjusted order invoice ready. Delivery 5/22.

- Cleaned all the things. Well, all the things on the first floor, exclusive of the sewing studio. Vacuum, dust, thoroughly clean the bathroom, wash both the kitchen and bathroom floor. All in two hours.

- Cooked all the things. Pork roast in the crock, baked sweet potato fries and cantaloupe for Craft Day lunch, with a luscious cake Pam brought for dessert (four month late birthday celebration for me, with a chocolate almond Julia Child cake...had to laugh, as Pam brought the frosting to make here, melted butter and chocolate with a little coffee added - the directions said to whisk well off heat after everything was combined, but Pam is a wimpy whisk-er, and it wouldn't thicken, until I took a turn). Cooked half a dozen chicken legs and roasted potatoes and carrots just now for dinner and a couple of days' lunches. Note also all the dishes are done and put away, and the kitchen is still clean.

- Craft Day! Pam worked on one of those fleece, tied blankets while I worked on a Hawaiian applique piece that will eventually be a throw pillow top. We both managed to get quite a bit done, in spite of lingering over lunch.

- The plants I've received so far are unpacked and on the patio, soaking up some of the rain we are having. It should be dry enough after work on Tuesday to plant. The arborvitae looks great, and the reblooming lilac is actually blooming. Let's see if I can keep them healthy until they are in the ground. Meanwhile, I wondered why the one arborvitae came, but not the two others and the rose. Called Home Depot, and it seems there was an issue with the Visa rewards card I used (redeemed credit card points for all the garden stuff). They never actually notified me of that fact. The customer service rep took the numbers again (fortunately, I still had the card, as there is still a small balance left, and because of the amount of the order, I knew which of the four rewards cards I had was the on used for this transaction) and the order should go through. I won't get an email saying that, though, just one when it ships. Eh. I can check the order status on line, and will loudly complain if there are any further issues. If all goes well, the plants should show up later this week.

- Once Upon a Time season finale shortly. I'm not sure I can stay awake for the full two hours, but that's what Hulu Plus is for, right?

Friday, May 08, 2015

I was read to as a child; it made me a reader, not a priviledged idiot

Amazon is having a bit of a kindle book blow-out (h/t Tim Challies, who links to book deals every day). I wandered over to take a look at the mystery offerings.

(Gee, Diane, aren't you supposed to be reading at least two non-fiction books a month this year? Yes, and I am. So what's with the recent glut of fiction reading - three novels in the last week and a half, plus part of a fourth? Shut up. I needed a change of pace. The first one was on sale, and it's a series, so... That really helps with the backlog of non-fiction on the kindle, now doesn't it? Shut up. And...vacation. Vacation is coming and I should be able to read whatever I want on vacation! But vacation doesn't start for another two weeks. Argh.)

To my delight, most of the books by a favorite author are listed at ninety-nine cents a book. Margery Allingham wrote roughly during the 1920s-1950s, with many of her books centered around an Englishman named Albert Campion. While each book can be read as a stand alone, the characters do age, and life circumstances change; reading them in order makes all those things clear.

Campion, it is hinted, is the younger son of someone important (much like Sayers' Peter Wimsey, but much less stuffy). His manservant (the equivalent of Wimsey's Bunter, though the extreme opposite of Bunter in every way), Magersfontein Lugg, is a former burglar.

Campion, in fact, was originally created as a parody of Wimsey, it seems, but grew into his own.

They are wonderful reads, a steal at these prices. I restrained myself and only bought one, though it is early and the sale goes at least all day.

The science fiction/fantasy series I'm immersed is the Lunar Chronicles from Melissa Meyer. The first book, Cinder, was listed on someone's website, somewhere, and when I took a quick look on Amazon, it seemed interesting. We've colonized the moon, but a series of world wars and trouble on earth left the colony to develop on their own. The native of Luna now have the ability to manipulate how other people see them - "glamour" (term borrowed from vampire lore). Earth and Luna have a rather uneasy relationship.

In spite of the science fiction aspects (people can have multiple cybernetic parts, hover cars and spaceships abound), there are emperors, princesses and queens. The characters are roughly modeled after fairytale characters - Cinder(ella), Scarlett (little red riding hood), Wolf (the big bad) and others.

The worlds Meyer created hang together very well, setting the story in a place that is believable (we hates it when an author doesn't pay enough attention to the rules they've created for the world in which their story is set - I can spot the inconsistencies and it jars me out of what may otherwise be a wonderful story). My only regret is that the fourth novel in the series isn't due out until November (yes, I've preordered it).

Sometime soon I'll get up March and April's non-fiction posts...simply haven't had the kindle with me when I sit down at the computer (I many not remember non-fiction as readily as I remember fiction...)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

There is such a thing as too efficient

Sigh. I can't seem to catch a break on the outside stuff.

This Saturday I went a bit crazy and did all the ordering of plants to (finally, finally) finish up putting things in the front bed and the patio.

Two of the bushes planted last year are dead. Not mostly dead, but completely dead. For the three weeks after they were planted we had rain and more rain. What I didn't know was that the eaves' overhang was so deep, they essentially got no water during that (why should I water? It just keeps raining!) period.

The third looks a bit tired, but at least it's more green than brown.

The hydrangea, after doing so well through the summer, decided that subzero temperatures for weeks on end during the winter were too much to endure, and it gave up the ghost.

At last, I 've come up with a final plan to fix things, and this year, unlike last summer's medication mixing induced near-coma, I have enough zip to follow through.

The plan:

Front bed - Replace the three Mr. Bowling Ball bushes, moving all three closer to the front of the bed (therefore more likely to catch any rain). To the left of the water spigot, plant a reblooming lilac bush, not just for the flowers, but for the leaves, which are nice looking on their own. Move the tall shepherd's hook to the right of the spigot, to be joined by the short hook that is currently in one of the urns on the patio. At some point I'll make a trip to the local garden center for a couple of small-to-medium sized hanging plants

Patio - Replace the hydrangea, though moving it to the urn that is partially in the shade. This is necessary because I 'm putting a knockout rose in the original urn - they need more sun than the hydrangea. The third urn is mostly in the shade, and will get some pretty little violas, which in our climate are annuals.

The maintenance - Step one, lay down a thick layer of mulch in both the front bed and in the urns. Step two, water every other day, regardless of rainfall.

I've done the plants, other than the hanging ones, by internet order, mostly because a couple of them (the strawberry sundae hydrangea and the reblooming lilac) are difficult to find locally. The bushes and lilac are coming from Home Depot, with an estimated delivery date of May 11 -13. That was perfect, as it gave me the weekend to pick up a couple extra bags of dirt and the mulch, and to clean/move hooks/loosen soil and do some other prep work, so that as soon as the plants arrived, I could just drop them in.

Hmmpf.

Home Depot, bless their efficient little hearts, decided to ship the lilac early, and it should arrive today.

Before I'm ready.

When I already have a mess of things to do.

When it is supposed to get up to eighty degrees.

Friday's forecast says "storms & showers later" - what time is later? Before or after sunset? Saturday is craft day, so I'll have almost no time to prep the ground. Sunday says showers again.

I can see me digging away in the rain, just to get this thing in the ground so it stands a chance of living.

Putting this plan out there will help me follow through, right? If I get a chance between raindrops, I'll take pictures of the sad patio and bed and post them.

One question for the vast internet (and my vastly smaller readership) - if I put a small bird feeder on the patio, what shall I fill it with? Just oiled sunflower seeds, or a mix, or something else? Some cardinals nest nearby, and we've some non-robin songbirds as well (I haven't yet been able to identify what they are by their songs, but give me time).